Foster said there are three ways to view any flag: through history, through memory and in the present. He described history as the actual historical context of a flag, whereas memory is a contemporary, idealized representation of what the flag stands for. "The South seceded to preserve slavery," he said, placing the flag in a historical context inseparable from slavery. He said many defenders of the flag argue that it stands for Southern heritage, values and culture. He described this as memory and said it is different from what the flag originally represented. Foster said flags are particularly potent historical symbols, which may be a reason the Confederate flag is still so hotly debated.
Ahh….now that feels better doesn’t it? Foster’s own Ghosts of the Confederacy Baptized in Blood, which was published in 1983 is one of the best of this most recent round of memory studies and a great place to start in tracing the history of our collective imagination surrounding the Civil War.